Be Love for Lent
By: Ava Marcarelli
Back in October, as I was sitting before the Lord in prayer, He revealed something to me that I didn’t know about myself. In fact, while I was happy to know it, because that meant I could work on it, it also made me feel a bit hopeless. I was struck by the realization that I don’t know how to love.
As I sat there before him, I felt helpless. It dawned on me just how little I knew about really loving people. How do you fix something like that? I began to ask myself, “What even is love? I know it goes beyond feelings, but how can I love someone without feeling it?” This was the beginning of my journey with Love Himself, which I believe will be culminating this Lent.
It’s not that I don’t love anyone—that is far from the truth—or that I need to prove my love or earn it by doing things for people, but that I don’t know how to do it actively. At least, I don’t know how to do it well. My family knows I love them, even if I don’t say it, but what do I ever do for them to express that love? When I’m with them, do they feel as if I love them just by being with them? Or do they feel more like a burden to me? Do I spend time with them? Do I say I love them? Do I do anything kind for them without being asked? Most of the time, the answers to all these questions are probably a hard “no.” And if I turn around and ask myself these same questions about my relationship with Jesus, can I say I do any of this for him? And even if I do all of this for him, why am I not doing it for the very tangible and present people around me—my friends, family, and everyone I meet—whom he instructs me to love as I love myself? Do I even love myself? My sisters in Christ, these are questions we should all be asking ourselves daily.
As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” You can give up whatever you’d like for Lent. You can go to extremes, wear a potato sack, take cold showers, fast for 40 days, but if you’re not doing it out of love for Jesus, then it means nothing.
I’m sharing this with all of you today not to discourage you, as I initially was, or to give you a reason not to do anything for Lent because you think you can’t do it all out of love, or whatever you might be feeling reading this. I’m sharing this with you because Jesus wants to remind you why you should be doing it. The Passion, Death, and Resurrection; the Triduum which our time of preparation leads up to, are a culmination of God’s love for us. So, don’t be discouraged. As I was praying this past week about ways to begin to better love others and God this coming Lent, here are some ideas I thought of that we can all apply to our lives:
Affirm others, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
Check in with friends and family randomly throughout the day to let them know you care.
Ask people about themselves and their interests, then just listen to what they’re saying instead of listening for your chance to speak.
Be more aware of the needs of others.
Ask people how you can help them or how you can pray for them, then do it.
Find time to do something extra for the Lord every day/week.
If praying is hard, love the people around you. God is Love and is present in every act of love we make.
THANK HIM. For everything. Thank Him for even the bad things and the hard things- even if you don’t feel thankful at that moment.
If you sin: repent, ask God for forgiveness, forgive yourself, then try to do better. This makes the Lord happier than discouragement.
Love others for His sake.
Just sit and be with Him.
Don’t be overwhelmed by what you have to do or what you can’t do this Lenten season. Remember what it’s all about: Love! Happy Lent!
Ava Marcarelli is a 23-year-old college graduate and barista trying to follow the Lord’s plan for her life. After living and working in South Korea for 6 months, she now hopes to help spread the Gospel and to be love to God’s people in Asia and throughout the world. Her love of art, beauty, people, writing, and Jesus motivates her to pursue the Lord everyday in everything.